Skip to content
Home » Posts » Alexander Durtka, Jr. to Retire as International Institute of Wisconsin President and CEO

Alexander Durtka, Jr. to Retire as International Institute of Wisconsin President and CEO

Dave Amoroso • Ron Sonntag Public Relations, Inc.
414-354-0200, ext. 108 •

MILWAUKEE — The International Institute of Wisconsin (IIW), an organization dedicated to the promotion of international cooperation, understanding, and a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural perspective, announced that Alexander P. Durtka, Jr. will retire as IIW President and Chief Executive Officer in the spring of 2022, after 38 years with the organization.

Operating under the name International Institute, Durtka joined the organization in 1984, and a year later, he oversaw the name change to the International Institute of Wisconsin. He also led the IIW’s relocation in 1991 from its building on 27th and Highland to new office space on Old World Third Street, where the organization maintains its headquarters.

“With an 85-year history of providing hundreds of thousands of individuals linguistically and culturally appropriate services, under Al’s direction, the IIW has offered a forum for individuals to experience the world and to learn not only about their culture, but the various cultures, heritages, and philosophies that those who live in Milwaukee and Wisconsin bring to the community,” said Donna Roeber, Chairperson of the International Institute of Wisconsin’s Board of Directors.

Throughout Durtka’s tenure, the IIW has worked with individuals from around the world in dire need, including Afghans, Bosnians, Burmese, Congolese, Croatians, Hmong, Kosovo Albanians, Rohingya, Serbians, Somalis, and many others. “During his time with the IIW, Al has spearheaded the provision of immigration and resettlement services to more than 22,000 individuals in southeastern Wisconsin,” Roeber said. “This has included cultivating strong partnerships with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and the State of Wisconsin. In addition, he has expanded the organization’s provision of interpretation and translation services, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and the IIW’s internship program.”

With the IIW serving as producer of the annual Holiday Folk Fair International, recognized as America’s premiere multi-cultural festival, Durtka has been instrumental in growing the event over the last four decades. This includes the introduction of visiting guests groups from around the world and the creation of the Holiday Folk Fair Wall of Honor, the Master Artisan Guild, the Cultural Awareness Program (CAP) Educational Day, and the Around the World in 5K run/walk. “Al was also instrumental in shepherding the event’s location changes, from the old MECCA arena and auditorium, to the Summerfest Grounds, to the Wisconsin State Fair Park grounds and the new State Fair Park Expo Center, to the virtual events conducted online in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Roeber.

As a result of his leadership, the IIW has established relationships and partnerships with a variety of other agencies, educational institutions, and community organizations, including Sister Cities International, the Consular Corps of Wisconsin, the World Trade Association, the International Festivals & Events Association, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, and the Wisconsin Refugee Advisory Committee.

Durtka has been recognized for his efforts with numerous awards and commendations, including the Order of the Rising Sun (conferred by the Emperor of Japan, for his contributions to the Japan – United States relationship), the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Lifetime Achievement Award, the Silver Meritorious Award from the CIOFF, the Silver Sake Cup from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Commendation, the Preserving Our Legacy Award from the National Folk Organization – USA, and Polish American Congress – Wisconsin Zablocki Civic Achievement Award.

The IIW board has been working the last several months on its leadership transition, which has included partnering with Patina Solutions Group Inc., a Brookfield, Wisconsin search firm. “We are seeking an individual with strong local and global awareness, plus a passion for the mission of intercultural support and awareness. The ideal candidate will set strategies for services, finances, talent management, brand development, and relationships with stakeholders, community leaders, and partners,” said Roeber. “The IIW’s new President and CEO will provide strategic leadership and vision to fulfill our mission, and assure the organization’s continuing relevance, growth, and financial viability while developing strong relationships to generate support for the organization and its reputation.” The complete job description and job interest submission information is available at

“As a result of Al’s tremendous leadership, the IIW’s next leader will enter an exciting situation, an organization that is in a strong position to continue serving the needs of individuals who call southeastern Wisconsin home,” Roeber said. “An experienced and dedicated staff, supported by an enthusiastic and strong board, volunteers, and friends, will meet the challenges presented by today’s political, financial, and public health situation, mindful of Al’s commitment to the community.

“We thank Al for all he has done to grow the IIW’s program and service offerings and for his stewardship. We wish him and his wife, Sharon, all the best in their future adventures.”

The IIW initiates, coordinates, and sponsors a variety of activities and programs appropriate to the fulfillment of its purpose, including immigration and social services, refugee resettlement, citizen diplomacy, and interpretation and translation. In addition, the IIW produces the annual Holiday Folk Fair International, with the 2022 event scheduled to be held Fri., Nov. 18 – Sun., Nov. 20 at the State Fair Park Exposition Center.

For more information, call 414-225-6220 or visit